Tories Look To Connect With Voters Via Crowdsourcing Platform

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

The Conservative Party have offered a one million pound cash prize for developers that can create a website to ‘harness the wisdom’ of the general public, in order to test Government policies

The Tory party is offering a cash prize of £1 million for a ‘crowdsourcing‘ website that will allow them to connect with the general public over a multiple of different subjects, in the hope of solving common problems.

The idea of the cash prize is that it is awarded to the team that develops the best online platform which can harness ‘the collective wisdom of the British people’. The cash will be taken from the Cabinet Office budget.

Crowdsourcing is a concept that essentially allows a company to ask a group of outsiders to perform a task, which would have traditionally being performed by an inhouse employee or contractor. It is seen as a way for firms to encourage as many people as possible to get involved with projects. Indeed, back in November, Amazon.com extolled the benefits of crowdsourcing for organisations.

Possible ideas which have been touted by the Tories in order “to get the ball rolling” include rating the quality of schools and hospitals; designing credit card bills that anyone can understand; identifying and rooting out wasteful government spending; making government information clear and simple; and even picking the England squad for the 2010 World Cup.

Jeremy Hunt, the shadow culture secretary quoted in the Daily Telegraph, said that the input of outsiders, such as retired professionals, was important if an incoming Conservative administration was to avoid policy “howlers.

“Conservatives believe that the collective wisdom of the British people is much greater than that of a bunch of politicians or so-called experts,” Hunt said. “And new technology now allows us to harness that wisdom like never before. Too often policy has been ill thought through with disastrous consequences.”

“When formulating and implementing policy why should we not listen to the hundreds of thousands of experts out there?” he asked.

However, somewhat predictably, the Tory initiative drew short shrift from the Government and the Liberal Democrats.

“Families want serious, thought-through policies that meet their aspirations, not short-term public relations stunts,” said Tessa Jowell, the Cabinet Office Minister.

“This prize is a total waste of taxpayers’ money,” said Jenny Willott for the Liberal Democrats. “Maybe the Tories are so out of touch they don’t know what’s out there, but they shouldn’t waste £1 million of public money reinventing the wheel.”